The hosts get helpful, and how!
HT City goes undercover to check if Delhi-ites are putting their best foot forward during the Commonwealth Games. Read on.entertainment Updated: Oct 10, 2010 01:30 IST
On Day 5 of the Commonwealth Games,
set out to gauge the politeness quotient of the Capital’s citizens. After all, in March this year, Delhi’s chief minister Sheila Dikshit had said, “We have to give our citizens the culture of politeness and sharing... so that the world goes back with an impression that they have been to a truly civilised city.”
Rs 51 lakh were spent by the union government to train 835 auto drivers in spoken English. The Delhi government also launched the Come On Delhi campaign, asking Delhi-ites to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’. A national magazine reported that beggars, too, were gearing up for the Games with English, French and Spanish classes. So, did any of this really work?
Dressed as tourists, we asked autowallahs, games volunteers, cops and ordinary people for directions — in English, French and Spanish.
Starting with a fast-food eatery in Connaught Place, we asked a steward the way to Starbucks, an American coffee chain that has no outlet in India. His reply: “It’s nearby...”
Next, we spotted some Games volunteers. We asked one of them for directions to Khan Market in Spanish. He not only drew a map but also offered to take us there. A cop outside American Center on KG Marg was clueless about Spanish, but vigorously pointed the way to Starbucks. A customer at a cigarette stall, who claimed to speak Spanish but stuck to Hindi, gave us more specific directions. “
mudo, aur uske baad seedha chalte raho
(Turn right ahead, then keep walking straight).”
We were pleasantly surprised to find that an auto driver on KG Marg was not only polite, but also fluent in English. We then asked a few people the way to the Games Village. A commuter in a bus stop pointed in an arbitrary direction and said, “Take a bus, take a bus.”
Our verdict: Delhi-ites are helpful even if they don’t understand the language. Sometimes, they go out of their way to assist you, even if it means taking you to a place that doesn’t exist.